IT’S official! A ribbon cutting last Sunday formalised the opening of the Sandy Point Community Centre.
The culmination of over 12 years of fund raising and planning, the building was completed about 12 months ago and has already hosted numerous meetings and functions. Next weekend it will host a wedding expo! Last Saturday’s event, held at the height of the summer season, with Sandy Point bursting with holidaymakers, was seen as an opportunity to thank all the people who made the dream of a community centre a reality.
Among the special guests at the opening were the three daughters of the late Tom Taylor, whose name is so closely linked to the centre. The new building is located in the TP Taylor Reserve and replaces the old TP Taylor Hall which served the Sandy Point community for many years.
Anne Kinne (nee Taylor) recalled family holidays at Sandy Point. She spoke about her father’s passion for Sandy Point, since he first started visiting in the late 1950s, and his determination to bring the community together. This saw him get the playground – still in existence – constructed, build the tennis courts – even though he didn’t play tennis himself – and establish what became the TP Taylor Hall. This was the old Presbyterian Church hall at Yallourn, where the Taylors lived. Tom Taylor arranged for it to be moved from Yallourn and reconstructed at Sandy Point.
The population of Sandy Point swells considerably each summer and several years ago it was recognised that the community had outgrown the old hall. Plans began for the new community centre. Anne Kinne said her father would have been very happy to know that the community work he began was continuing and would be very grateful to all the hardworking people who had maintained his vision.
Diane Casbolt was one of those people. Helped by fellow Sandy Point residents such as Joyce Crawford, who shared her vision, and with the support of her colleagues on South Gippsland Shire Council, Ms Casbolt saw that the necessary funds were raised – through community fund raising and government grants.
Most generous was the former federal Labor government, which in 2007 contributed $1.3 million towards the $1.5 million plus project as part of its bid to stimulate the economy. The impressive total of $150,000 was raised by the community and the shire council matched this figure. Di Casbolt was the project coordinator – for 12 long years according to her estimation. She was also, for some time, the president of the TP Taylor Hall committee of management. She acknowledged it had been a long journey, “quite challenging at times,” but said she had had the support of a very professional and hardworking steering committee.
South Gippsland mayor Jim Fawcett acknowledged the “perseverance and patience” of the Sandy Point community in raising the necessary funds to complete the project, despite the holiday town having only a small permanent population. He said the stunning design of the centre was a credit to the architect. This was Rob McGauran of MGS, along with Sue Buchanan. Mr McGauran is a long-time holidaymaker at Sandy Point and has strong links with the community.
“This is not just a showpiece. It is here to be used by the community,” said Dianne Cooper, the current president of the TP Taylor Reserve committee of management. The ribbon cutting marked the start of an afternoon of activities organised by Ms Cooper and her committee. Along with a sausage sizzle and light refreshments, the crowd enjoyed a jumping castle and a variety of children’s games in the sunshine.
Inside the centre guests could view a fascinating slideshow of earlier times at Sandy Point on the big screen or pore over photograph albums chronicling the history of the new building – and get some idea of what it took to get it to where it is today.